High-Profile Volunteers Ensure Hope Marches On this Holiday Season

Dec 23, 2021

You may have recognized some of the people volunteering with The Salvation Army this holiday season – from local news personalities to public servants to the star of the North Pole himself! All of them generously lent a hand to help us raise funds to ensure that Hope Marches On for our neighbors in need.

Surprised by Santa

While Santa rides his sleigh to deliver gifts on Christmas, on a recent Saturday, he rode in a white van to accompany The Salvation Army’s Mobile Feeding Unit. The mobile unit stops at more than 20 locations throughout Chicago every day to distribute soup, a beverage, and access to additional services the Army provides.

Santa was a surprise guest this day, greeting clients with his trademark laugh and gifting them with winter coats, thermals, and gifts for children. This is the tenth year that Santa, a dedicated volunteer named Scott, has gathered gifts and winter gear from friends and family and distributed them, along with his wife, Meghan, to homeless and under-resourced individuals with our Mobile Feeding Unit. Many of the grown clients were excited to see Santa and get a selfie with him.

TV Celebs Ring Bells

NBC5 meteorologist Andy Avalos was a popular bell ringer for The Salvation Army for many years before his retirement earlier this year. Thankfully, his television replacement, Alicia Roman (above), agreed to follow in his philanthropic footsteps. This season, she rang bells at our Celebrity Corner, in front of the State Street Macy’s downtown, and hosted a Virtual Red Kettle. The day after she rang in person, she told viewers that she was only $12 away from her $1,000 goal for her Virtual Red Kettle. By the end of the hour, she had surpassed her goal and raised a total of $1,758.

FOX 32 anchor and reporter Natalie Bomke also took her first-ever turn at our Celebrity Corner, greeting fans with her new friend Captain Kettle. Last year, Natalie hosted a Facebook Live virtual bell ringing on Giving Tuesday – and was joined by her sweet baby daughter, Olive. This year, Natalie was grateful to greet fans and encourage their donations in person.

Some Love from the First Lady

Chicago’s First Lady Amy Eshleman (Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s wife) has volunteered at The Salvation Army’s Temple Corps Community Center in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood several times, helping with their food pantry and various Christmas assistance programs. She’s carrying on a volunteering tradition with the Army that started with her parents, who have rung bells at our Red Kettles for years.

This Christmas, Amy brought several of her mom friends to help pack and distribute gifts for our Angel Tree program, which provides Christmas presents for children, teens, and seniors who would otherwise go without. Amy and her group especially enjoyed helping parents pick out stocking stuffers and other extras available to clients thanks to generous neighbors.

Fired Up to Help Others

For years, the Gaelic Fire Brigade, has brought a lively group to our Celebrity Corner Red Kettles to raise funds for The Salvation Army. In this, their fifth year ringing bells for us, the mostly Irish group of firefighters raised more than $1,600 in just one hour, exponentially higher than the typical Red Kettle earnings.

When a group of Christian Firefighters also took their turn at Celebrity Corner this year, the Red Kettle wasn’t the only shiny red object on hand. They brought along a fire truck, which passersby were more than happy to check out and climb aboard, when they weren’t showing some love to the Red Kettle.

The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division is grateful to all of these dedicated volunteers who have helped us ensure that Hope Marches on for our neighbors in need this holiday season, and well beyond. And we offer our hearty thanks to all who donated toys, coats, and funds to the effort. Together, we will bring hope well into 2022.

Check out our Christmas photo album

Help The Salvation Army Do the Most Good

Volunteer     Make a Donation     Fundraise for Good

Recent Stories

Related Content: ChristmasHolidaysVolunteering

Get Involved
Share Your Story

We would love to hear about your experience with The Salvation Army.

Share My Story


A gift to The Salvation Army helps someone in your community.

Give Now



Do Good in your community

Find Worship

Join us throughout the week for worship, fellowship, Bible study, meals, community service and fun.